BY David F. EFFIONG
I think and rightfully so, that they’d be an apology for what happened in Rwanda – the most Catholic country in Africa and in the world; where priests and nuns and bishops are on trial for inciting the people from their pulpits and from radio stations, the massacres of their brothers and sisters. In Africa, it might have been the case to say that AIDS is bad but not quite as bad as condoms are bad or not as immoral in the same way. The preachings of this church are responsible for the sufferings and misery of millions of their brothers and sisters. It comes from a clutch of historical sinister virgins who already betray their church in the children of their own church (Being an excerpt from Christopher Hitchens’ debate in 2013).
The Catholic Church was accused of being close to Hutu-led government in 1994 when 800,000 mostly Tutsis were killed. Several catholic priests as well as nuns were charged with participating in the 1994 genocide. A number of churches became scenes of mass killings during the 100 – day rampage, as Hutu militiamen found people seeking refuge there, sometimes turned over by priests, with no way out (get to read more at www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/pope-apologises-church-role-rwanda-genocide-170320132113667.html )Disgusting as this sounded to me, Francis’ pardon plea followed a request from Rwanda in November to apologize for the church’s role in the massacres.
I have no doubt that that heroic debate by Christopher Hitchens/ Stephen Fry vs. Archbishop John Onaiyekan/Ann Widdecombe on 26th April 2013 (check it out on YouTube) was the ‘push’ the church needed.
However, despite the fact that several catholic priests (of which late bishop Augustine Misago – freed from prison in June), as well as nuns and brothers were charged with participating in the genocide and tried y by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and by a Belgian Court; despite the fact that in November, a letter of apology signed by the bishops representing the nine dioceses in Rwanda was read in all Churches, the Rwanda’s government indicted that the local church is still complicit in protecting the perpetrators of the genocide.
As a matter of consequence, President Paul Kagame, during the 20th anniversary commemorations in April 2014 accused the Catholic Church of having “participated fully” in establishing the colonial ideology that created the divide between Hutus and Tutsis, which he claimed led to the genocide. From the foregoing, it is now known world over that the Catholic Church indeed laid the intellectual foundation for genocide ideology. It was not until this year that Pope Francis was recorded to “implore anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the church and its members, among whom priests, and religions men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission.”
But why did the church wait to be pushed by a debate, by secularists and by a President to acknowledge finally her part in the 1994 genocide, if she was/is truly a force for good?
In 1633, the inquisition of the Catholic Church forced Galileo Galilei, one of founders of modern science, to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun. Under threat of torture, Galileo recanted. But as he left the courtroom, he is said to have muttered, “all the same, it moves” (the “New Scientist Magazine” issue 1846, published 7th November 1992). The Galileo affair really embarrassed the church because in the words of Father George Coine “here was a scientist saying he interpreted scripture better than they did.” Funny as it might sound, in a letter to Kepler (August 1610), Galileo complained that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through a telescope – ‘just as the asp stops its ears, so do these philosophers (Jesuits) shut their eyes to the light of truth (cf. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair. assessed April 14th 2017).
The conclusions to this un-catholic ‘Galileoinism,’ as quoted in Langford, 1992 and adumbrated at the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) states that “…no one relying on his own judgment shall…presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which the holy Mother Church…has held or holds…” It was not until the 19th century (359 years later), that the Catholic church admitted Galileo was indeed right.
If the Catholic Church is a force for good, with her claims to be light of the nations and peoples, why did she prefer to sacrifice her intellectuals (and still does) at the altar of abstract theories and dogmas proved wrong evidentially? Is the Catholic Church still holding certain neo-geocentric ‘ideologies?’
In the words of Christopher Hitchens, I will also like to emphasize that the institutions of religion ought to cease from making and turning adults into children for the purpose of using them as church properties; that churches and mosques and all other religious houses should consider not basking in the deceptive euphoria of displaying a character of subjectivity in rights, and approach objectivity. For years (even during the sex scandal periods in the United States, especially with popular names such as Cardinal Law, Bishop Lennon, Archbishop O’ Malley, Joseph Birmingham, fathers Paul Desilets, Robert V. Gale, John Geoghan, Paul Shanley, as well as the Robert A. Ward affair) the Catholic Church has ‘pretended’ to really apologize for certain crimes against humanity by approaching victims ‘subjectively.’ No wonder Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the locales have expressed their displeasures even after certain bishops have apologized.
My name is David Francis and the nature of my engagements include:
Philosophy (University of Jos, Nigeria); Researcher (St. Albert’s Institute, Fayit-Fadan, Kaduna, Nigeria); Editor (Sapientia African Leadership Formation Programme, e. V Address: Badenstedter Street, 99 30453, Hannover, Germany); Literature (S. E. M. S. Nassarawa State, Nigeria); Former Associate Editor, “Periscope Magazine,” Abuja and Columnist, “Seekers Delight Magazine,” Kaduna.
I simply try to question the ‘happy darkness’ by encouraging more hands to minimize ignorance. Just a dose of knowledge, is enough in training the mind, to conform to nothing except truth. Let’s ride this train together!
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